Colorado State University has hired a veteran of New Belgium Brewing to serve as brewmaster, manager and instructor for the University’s two new teaching breweries coming online this year. The position is being funded jointly by CSU and New Belgium.
Jeff Biegert has been in the brewing industry for 27 years — including 17 at New Belgium as process development analyst and production brewer — and has taught CSU brewing courses as an adjunct instructor since 2012.
“I’m excited about giving the students hands-on experience with these state-of-the-art facilities,” Biegert said, referring to the breweries in the Ramskeller at the Lory Student Center and in the Gifford Building. “To teach it on the book level, and then apply it, that’s what I love. You see the light bulb go on in everyone’s heads.”
He added that graduates of CSU’s Fermentation Science and Technology program, who will learn how to brew beer on the new high-tech systems, will be light years ahead of where he was when he started brewing in the early 1990s.
“Many of them are already doing more than I’ll ever do,” Biegert said. “Often I learn more from my students than they learn from me.”
The sponsored instructor position, effective July 1, is the result of a two-year agreement among New Belgium, the Lory Student Center, and the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.
“The LSC is excited to strengthen our partnership with New Belgium and Food Science and Human Nutrition by having Jeff Biegert join our campus community,” said Robert Peters, director of business services for the Lory Student Center. “The LSC looks forward to our collaboration at the Ramskeller Brewery to introduce new and exciting crafted products.”
“New Belgium has been a strong supporter of the Fermentation Science and Technology program since its inception in 2013,” added Mike Pagliassotti, head of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. “This position will strengthen the existing program tremendously.”
‘Novel and innovative’
Jeff Callaway, associate director of the program, agreed, noting that in a lean operation like FST, any staffing increase has a big impact.
“This continues the FST program’s trend of partnering with industry,” he said. “That’s what makes our program unique in the country, the connections that students get in the industry. This partnership is novel and innovative.”
Biegert began his brewing career in 1992 by apprenticing at the Harpoon Brewery in Boston. After spending the next seven years at nearby Tremont Brewery, he moved to Avery Brewing in Boulder in 2000, where he served as head brewer and production manager.
He earned a diploma in brewing technology from the Siebel Institute in Chicago in 1998. Biegert has been a member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas since 1996, serving on its national scholarship committee and as the Rocky Mountain District’s president and technical chair. He’s delivered lectures for the MBAA and other brewing organizations for 12 years and is certified as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
History of industry support
While many CSU alumni have gone on to work at New Belgium, production brewmaster Christian Holbrook said the brewery’s financial contribution is intended to provide the entire industry — not just the company — with well-trained employees.
“We’re excited to partner with CSU to fund this position and share Jeff’s practical, real-world experience with the FST program,” said Holbrook. “In addition to being a great technical resource for students, Jeff will serve as a bridge between the FST program and New Belgium, allowing us to continue to collaborate on innovative research projects and giving students an opportunity to gain hands-on brewing experience.”
It’s not the first financial contribution from New Belgium to the CSU program. A $1 million gift in 2015 made the Gifford Building brewing facility possible and created the New Belgium Fermentation Science and Technology Laboratory, which houses analytical, brewing, kitchen and sensory room space.
The Ramskeller teaching brewery, which CSU engineering students helped set up, was unveiled in April and was made possible by in-kind gifts from a host of donors, including Molson Coors and Malisko Engineering.
Callaway compared all of the new brewing equipment to a race car. “The addition of Jeff Biegert represents the fuel needed to power that race car,” he said.
The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.
About New Belgium Brewing
New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside magazine’s Best Places to Work, one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses and tops Bicycling Magazine’s Best Companies for Cyclists. The 100 percent employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses, and a Certified B Corp. In addition to Fat Tire Belgian Style Ale, New Belgium brews 15 year-round beers: Citradelic Tangerine IPA, Fat Tire Belgian White, Voodoo Ranger IPA, Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA, Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze, Sour Saison, Honey Orange Trippel, Dayblazer Easygoing Ale, Tartastic Lemon Ginger Ale, 1554 Black Lager, Bohemian Pilsner, Abbey Belgian Style Ale, Trippel Belgian Style Ale and a gluten-reduced beer, Glutiny Pale Ale. To learn more, visit NewBelgium.com and follow the brewery on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.